Edmund Kemper Stories

Documenting the Co-Ed Killer case

Passing of Harold Cartwright (1940-2021)

We are saddened to hear that Harold Cartwright passed away a few days ago at the age of 80. Mr. Cartwright worked on Ed Kemper’s defense team. He was an investigator for Kemper’s lawyer, Jim Jackson. Thanks to @8folddharma on Instagram for letting us know.

During the 2018 two-hour special “Kemper on Kemper: Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer,” former investigator with the Santa Cruz Public Defender’s Office Harold Cartwright opened up about what it was like working on “Co-Ed Killer” Ed Kemper’s defense team.

“Tell you a little bit about my interaction with Eddy, with Ed Kemper,” said Cartwright. “One day, I had a really stiff neck — I couldn’t move my head hardly at all.”

Cartwright continued, “[Kemper] said, ‘I know a lot about anatomy. I can make your neck feel better.’ So, I went around, and he worked on my neck for maybe, I don’t know, five minutes. And you know? It worked.”

Cartwright said that even though the 6-foot-9-inch, 285-pound Kemper “could have probably killed [him] with one hand,” he “never felt unsafe in his presence.”

“I felt that if somebody had attacked me, he would have come to my aid,” Cartwright told “Kemper on Kemper: Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer.”

The two spent “a lot of time together,” and Cartwright said he and Kemper were “friendly.” While Kemper was in jail awaiting trial for murdering eight women — including his own mother and her best friend — many members of law enforcement also described him as “friendly,” “cooperative” and a model prisoner.

Still, defending an admitted serial killer took “a horrible toll” on all those involved in the investigation.

Cartwright said, “If I could change things in my life, I would definitely not have participated in these mass murders. I had a wife and two little kids; I worked 13 months without a day off. Within five years after these trials were completed, the district attorney was divorced, I was divorced, several of the police officers involved were divorced. … It was difficult, difficult time [sic], and it’s always a part of you.”

Mr. Cartwright’s obituary is available here.

Source: “Kemper on Kemper: Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer” from Oxygen, 2018

“I’d love to take credit for more [victims]”

Aluffi (left), Kemper (right)

The following is from a taped interview between suspect Edmund Emil Kemper III and investigator Michael Aluffi, held at the Santa Cruz Jail on April 28, 1973. 

Aluffi: Ed, you’ve admitted to the deaths of six coeds, your mother and Mrs. Hallett, are there any other homicides that you’ve committed other than your grandmother and your grandfather?

Kemper: No.

Aluffi: None whatsoever?

Kemper: None whatsoever.

Aluffi: What about in Santa Rosa?

Kemper: No. There almost was a victim there, but I guess pretty much for the same reason I didn’t kill so many others, it was a surprise pickup and quite a lovely young lady, and I just psychologically was not prepared for it. But when I was psychologically in the mood for it and everything worked out right, the person didn’t have a chance, when I knew ahead of time. 

Aluffi: But you did pick up a hitchhiker in Santa Rosa?

Kemper: Yes, the deposited her safely. She was probably 16 or 17 years old.

Aluffi: What about Los Angeles?

Kemper: No, I picked up people up and down there for the same reason, only on one occasion, two girls, and I released them at their destination and picked up one girl in Santa Barbara that was headed for Santa Cruz. But at that time, all I had was my knife and I didn’t really see an opportunity to use it. 

Aluffi: Did you ever pick up any hitchhikers in Las Vegas?

Kemper: No.

Aluffi: Have you ever been to Las Vegas?

Kemper: Yes, long, long ago and only by bus.

Aluffi: So in essence, the killings that you have admitted, those are the only ones that you’ve ever completed. 

Kemper: I’d love to take credit for more, not because I’m looking for a big score, but that I wouldn’t take credit for any that I didn’t do because, well, there’s partially the guilt factor involved and there also is the uh, well I didn’t do it, so I didn’t get any pleasure out of it or any guilt out of it and why take somebody else off the hook who did do it. Obviously, whoever did these other crimes that haven’t been solved doesn’t have too many clues against him. I’m not trying to pat anybody on the back or help anybody else get away with anything, but I figure I can’t even cop out to these crimes because they’re gonna find out that I didn’t do them and I wouldn’t be able to give you any details, not even under a lie detector test. 

Aluffi: Would you be willing to submit to a lie detector test?

Kemper: Sure, as long as it only pertained to any cases that I didn’t involve myself in. You know, there’s always questions people don’t like to sit there and have a lie detector test on concerning other parts in their lives. 

Aluffi: But you would be willing to submit to a lie detector test in reference to…

Kemper: Any unsolved murders that you might think I had something to do with, or to verify certain statements I have made concerning the crimes I did commit. 

Aluffi: You would submit to the subjects of these coeds deaths?

Kemper: Certainly.

Aluffi: Do you think you could remember anything else that might be of any consequence in these investigations?

Kemper: Not at this time I don’t.

Aluffi: Would you be willing to talk to me at a later time if you did remember something like that?

Kemper: Yes.

Sources: Ed Kemper’s official jailhouse confessions in April 1973 / Photos are from the Santa Cruz Sentinel (for Aluffi) and another unknown newspaper (for Kemper) / Kemper photo by W. H. Hawkins found on Reddit and first published by the Facebook Ed Kemper Discussion page

After 41 years in law enforcement, Aluffi retires

Michael Aluffi became homicide detective in 1972, just as the United States’ attention was about to fix on Santa Cruz, where three different serial killers, John Linley Frazier, Edmund Kemper and Herbert Mullin, would send the country into a panic.

As new detective, Aluffi had to manage the paperwork from registered firearm sales. One day, a record of sale landed on his desk for a .44 caliber magnum pistol bought by Kemper, who had a sealed juvenile record. Suspicious, Aluffi went to Kemper’s house with his partner Don Smythe to confiscate the gun until they could find out more about Kemper’s past.

“There was something about Kemper that made me uneasy when we visited his house,” Aluffi said about the 6-foot-9-inch behemoth of a man who would later be convicted of eight murders. “When he went to the trunk of his car to get the gun, Don and I instinctively put our hands on our guns and went to either side of the car. Kemper later told me that if we hadn’t been watching him so closely, he planned to kill us.”

Aluffi and Smythe’s visit to his house made Kemper nervous that the cops were closing in on him, and he killed and beheaded his mother and her best friend before fleeing. He made it to Pueblo, Colorado, before he decided to call Santa Cruz to confess. Aluffi, along with other law enforcement, was sent to Colorado to accompany the serial killer on the long ride back.

“After that I was more confident as an officer, absolutely,” Aluffi said. “I felt like there wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle at that point.”

Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, November 20, 2010

“I’m going to murder my mother”

“I said, ‘It’s not going to happen to anymore girls. It’s gotta stay between me and my mother.’ … I said, ‘She’s gotta die, and I’ve gotta die, or girls are gonna die.’ And that’s when I decided, ‘I’m going to murder my mother.’ … I knew a week before she died I was going to kill her.”

Kemper explained in a 1984 interview that, by April 1973, he wanted to end the life of the person who he believed fueled his violent, murderous rage — Kemper’s abusive, alcoholic mother, Clarnell Strandberg, after having murdered six female students from various colleges and universities scattered along the coast of Northern California.

Source: Documentary Murder: No Apparent Motive (1984)

Kemper’s sexual achievement

Inv. Michael Aluffi:   Did you ever have any kind of a sexual achievement while you were killing them [his victims]?

KemperYes, I’m sure it’s happened before, but the only time I actually noticed an ejaculation was as I was killing Mrs. Hallett on Saturday night, as she was dying, it was a great physical effort on my part, very restraining, very difficult, much less difficult that I made it, I went into a full complete physical spasm let’s say. I just completely put myself out on it and as she died, I felt myself reaching orgasm. In the other cases, the physical effort was less. I think with the Koo girl, in the case of a suffocation, the same thing happened. But I didn’t really notice it, because I did have sex with her right after causing her to be unconscious. 

Source: Excerpt from Ed Kemper’s official jailhouse confessions in Santa Cruz on April 28, 1973 (after his arrest in Pueblo, Colorado), pages 27 and 28 / Video of confessions from the Oxygen documentary Kemper on Kemper (2018)

Anita Luchessa – School photo souvenirs

Anita Luchessa was Ed Kemper’s second co-ed victim. Kemper killed her and her friend Mary Anne Pesce on May 7, 1972 after he picked them up in Berkeley, California, as they were hitchhiking to Stanford University.

Here are some photo souvenirs of Anita during her years in high school. She was involved in many clubs in school, including the freshman yell leaders, the sophomore yell leaders, the German club, the American field service, le Circle français and the science club. A red star identifies Anita in the pictures below.

From the 1968 yearbook of the Davis High School in Modesto
From the 1969 yearbook of the Davis High School in Modesto
From the 1969 yearbook of the Davis High School in Modesto
From the 1969 yearbook of the Davis High School in Modesto
From the 1969 yearbook of the Davis High School in Modesto
From the 1971 yearbook of the Davis High School in Modesto

Source: Ancestry

Murder Capital of the World

This photo and famous Kemper quote are from the upcoming book Murder Capital of the World by Emerson Murray, which will be released in May 2021. It covers the crimes of the three active serial killers in the Santa Cruz region in California in the early 1960s, that of Edmund Kemper, Herbert Mullin and John Linley Frazier. The stories are all told through direct quotes from the murderers themselves, people from their families and those who were involved in their respective cases.

I had the chance to read an advanced copy and this book is simply terrific. Many new information and details about the Kemper case. Direct quotes from his mother, his father and his older sister are quite revealing. Many new pictures of Kemper during the trial and a never-seen-before mugshot of young Kemper. Kemper researchers will be thrilled by this book as it enriches his story quite a lot. We will do an official review when the book comes out this Spring.

Ed Kemper’s fingerprints

Just found this image of Ed Kemper’s fingerprints as they were taken on April 24, 1973, the day he surrendered himself to police after murdering his mother and her best friend, on the thisisedkemper website we previously told you about.

Kemper’s last hours of freedom are described as follows:

On the morning of April 24, 1973, Ed Kemper surrendered in Pueblo, Colorado.

He had been driving east across the country for days after committing his final murders in Santa Cruz. As he approached the Kansas border in the middle of the night, he was struck by a troubling memory from his teenage years at Atascadero State Hospital.

He turned around.

Kemper drove back the way he came and stopped at a bar in Lamar, Colorado. He had a confrontation with a local man before finishing his beer, getting into his car, and continuing west. At a phone booth in Pueblo by the side of the highway, he finally gave himself up to police.

Police looking for a gun

A few weeks before Ed Kemper murdered his mother in April 1973, Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Sergeant Michael Aluffi was instructed to confiscate a gun illegally in the possession of an Aptos man. His name was Edmund Emil Kemper III and the address was 609A Ord Drive.

The instructions had resulted from a routine bulletin from the California Department of Criminal Investigation and Identification, which said that Kemper had purchased a .44 magnum revolver in Watsonville and falsely sworn that he had never been in prison.

The notice did not give any details of Kemper’s first two murders [of his paternal grandparents], listing only court disposition of the case and his prison record.

Aluffi drove to the apartment, but found no one at home. As he was walking away from the apartment door, a yellow Ford pulled into the parking space beside his unmarked vehicle. A large, brown-haired young man and a small young blonde girl were in it. It was Kemper and his fiance.

Kemper discussed the event in his 1984 interview for the documentary “Murder – No Apparent Motive”:

Journalist: Some police department actually came to your house to pick up a handgun. 

Kemper: The sheriff’s representatives, one of the detectives was upset because he heard I had a .44 magnum pistol and was a convicted mental patient and killed. He came to take the gun away. They were staking out the wrong house across the street and I’m playing around with a car, standing next to the gun in the trunk. They come over and asked, “Excuse me, sir. Do you know who lives in this house across the street?” Well, that house was 609 Harriet. He crossed back over to this side, 609 Ord, and they were looking for me and didn’t even know that was me. Bad news. Well, at any rate, we walk in the house and have them ask my mother about this other house, and I’m saying, “Hey, which 609 are you looking for?” They said, “Are you Ed Kemper?” “Yes,” and it goes on and I needed to find out what they were looking for, the murder weapon, the .22 automatic or the .44 magnum, and I don’t want to advertise that I’ve got a whole bunch of guns. So, I made a comment just to divide between the two and I suggest, “quite a little gun, isn’t it?”

He reported, “.44 magnum, I hope so.” Okay, because that loaded .22 was under the front seat and guarantee me an arrest right on the spot and the .44 was in the trunk. I forgot that. I took them in the house. We went into my bedroom and the closet doors open and I have a high-powered rifle with a scope on it with some other stuff in the house.

You had some other stuff in the house, yes?

Yeah, I had the personal effects of the last two coeds that had been murdered about two months before, right next to the guns in the closet in a box.

Could he have seen it?

No, but when he arrested me for having all those guns and went through the closet looking to see if there were any pistols or anything else, he wouldn’t have… couldn’t have helped notice a purse, a book bag and coed ID inside of those belonging to their two latest murder victims. I back up and I say, “Oh, excuse me. I just remembered something,” and instantly he responds to what I’m saying. My hand moves, back we go outside, and he’s still thinking, “Boy, this is a really nice and helpful guy here.”

Sources: Excerpt from book “Sacrifice Unto Me” by Don West, 1974, Pyramid Publishing / Excerpt from the interview from “Murder – No Apparent Motive” (1984)

“Decapitation is not butchering.”

From Charles Manson to the Yorkshire Ripper, Son of Sam to the Monster of Florence, John Douglas tests his wits against the best criminal minds of his generation.

Edmund Kemper is, by his own lights, a man of superior intellect and no small achievements. He boasts of once having been America’s youngest fully-fledged civic booster; a twenty-year-old Christian living what he calls a “Jesus-first” life. 

But that distinction is just an ironic footnote in Kemper’s vitae. He is a legend for far more weighty reasons, and he implores his visitor to please, just please, get the story right. 

“I did not butcher people,” Ed Kemper, now 41 years old, insists with the petty certitude of a grammarian arguing over nuance. “Decapitation is not butchering. The papers and the magazines had me butchering my victims. But I only dismembered two bodies. They were all decapitated; all but my mother’s friend. Why? Why didn’t I just pop some teeth out, or crunch some bones up? I was starting to branch out in my thoughts about how to do things and get away with it. The psychological trip was, the person is the head. For some reason, someone looks entirely different with no head. I noticed that.” 

I’m on an honesty thing the last five or six years; except when people get into my car. I didn’t tell ‘em I was gonna kill ‘em. I couldn’t quite handle that … Are you interested in what I was taking the heads off with? It wasn’t a saw, not even a hack saw: a buck knife.” 

“I got my high on the complication of the thing; the meticulous way I ironed out potential problems before they even started… Hatpins! Mace! The more weapons the girls had, the safer they felt, the more chances they’d take, the easier it was for me. Unless it’s a policewoman with a gun in her hand, aimed at me, I’ve got her exactly where I want her. The first two victims [Pesce and Luchessa] were convinced the FBI and the CIA and Interpol were going to come looking for ‘em two hours after they were missing. Both of ‘em had money. Ritzy families. Real important. ‘Boy, if I don’t call daddy, we’ll be missed.”

In an interview room at Vacaville prison in California, John Douglas, an energetic man not particularly suited to the sedentary, just sits there for a change and listens. There is little choice. Kemper talks fast, like someone trying to finish a long story before he runs out of the door. But Kemper is going nowhere. 

Kemper is a giant of a man, 6’9” and 302 pounds, and as the words spew out, his voice betrays macabre enthusiasm while an intermittent giggle gives away his self-consciousness. These are awful stories. Over a span of maybe half-a-dozen years, Kemper killed ten people: his grandparents, his mother, her best friend, and six hitchhiking students. He chopped their heads and hands off, ate parts of them, and, in his nagging mother’s case, propped up her severed head on the kitchen table, ranted and raved at it, ripped out the larynx and ground it up in the waste disposal. “Mom didn’t give a fuck. She was using us for her own little comforts.” Nice guy. 

Maybe it’s a stretch of the imagination to see Kemper as the pride of the Junior Chamber of Commerce chapter at the Atascadero State Hospital for the criminally insane, California. But then he was much younger and the shrinks thought there was still hope; at that time, he’d only hacked up his grandparents. 

As Douglas listens to this serial killer offhandedly describe the young women he stalked and murdered after his release from Atascadero, the word that comes to Douglas’s mind is nothing to be proud of, but at least he is being honest with himself. Douglas spells it out: “p-u-s-s-y”. A coward. The word refers to Edmund Kemper, not to those who are dead, although Douglas has called murdered girls by that cruel name, too, when he thought doing so would please a murderer enough to make him relive the thrill of the kill. 

Which is what Douglas wants. 

The dead cannot speak, but their killers can, and Douglas has probably talked to more of them than any other man alive.

Sources: Excerpts** from the article “In at the Kill”, by John A. Jenkins (as published in GQ (Britain), February 1991) / Image from 1989 closed-circuit interview for the FBI Academy

**The order of the excerpts has been modified for a better understanding of the content. 

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